2013 is here with a bang!

First of all, we would appreciate your prayers for Joel right now as he has the flu. We were at the ER last night and they gave him a bunch of medicine, but if he gets worse, we have to go back and do a spinal tap. He could have had one last night, but he preferred to wait it out.  Poor guy has had so many spinal taps already that he’d do anything to avoid it. But by being on the immunosuppressant, it will take him longer to recover from the flu.

He also saw the rheumatologist this last week and the good news is that the immunosuppressant is helping his liver. The doctor didn’t want to confirm 100% that its autoimmune hepatitis (which is a little frustrating), but he did say he can confirm 1. Joel has an autoimmune disease, 2. Currently the disease is attacking his liver and 3. He is responding to treatment. The only way to really confirm autoimmune hepatitis is to take him off the medicine and do another liver biopsy. But that would not be smart because then he will be sick again and no matter what the biopsy said, it would not change his treatment since he is responding to the immunosuppressant.

The doctor also mentioned the possibility of sarcoidosis, which we had never heard of before. But again the treatment is the same, so for now, it wouldn’t change anything. We’ll just have to monitor everything for that. One thing we were concerned about is Joel’s pain level, which has been high. The doctor increased the immunosuppressant, which is supposed to help. The other concern we have is Joel picking up all sorts of infections because he is immunosuppressed. I have asked the doctor several times about a long-term antibiotic, but he is sure that Joel doesn’t need that. I’m not quite as sure.

Our other big news for those that haven’t heard is that we are moving to Colorado. Mostly so we can be around Joel’s family there, mine are close in Nebraska, and for better healthcare. We LOVE Las Vegas and our friends and family here so it was a very difficult decision to make, but God showed us in numerous ways that this was what He wanted for us. Here is a good example. On the way home from our visit to Colorado over the holidays, I sat next to a guy on the plane who lives in Boulder and Las Vegas. I didn’t have a job at the time, but Boulder is only about 15 minutes from the church I was interviewing with. He said that he sees a rheumatologist in Boulder that he really liked. I thought that was awesome in and of itself because not many people see a rheumatologist. I knew the name of the insurance I would have if I got the job at the church so I asked him if he knew if the rheumatologist took that insurance and he said, “Yes! Because that’s the insurance I have!” I thought that was so cool! And another indication God was telling us He would provide. I was eventually offered the job and I accepted. So we will be moving to Longmont, Colorado, just north of Denver. The u-haul truck pulls out of here February 11. We will be sad to leave Las Vegas, but excited to start a new adventure.

As always, thank you so much for your support, love and prayers.


Reflecting on Love

There is no new news to report yet, but I wanted to share some things that has been on my heart for the last week.

We recently visited my aunt and uncle over the Christmas holiday and had a chance to meet their small Bible study group. When my uncle told me they were coming over for a night of food and games, I asked if we needed to disappear. To the contrary, he said, they were coming to meet me and Kayla. He said they had heard so much about us and had prayed so much for us that when they learned we would be in town, they all asked if there would be a chance to meet us. During our time together, I was struck by one young couple in the group. They sat and talked with me for a while, getting to know me a little and understand what we’ve been going through. Near the end of the conversation, the wife said that many times over the last nine months as they would have dinner with her mother, her mother, whom I’ve never met, would pray for me each time they were together and even stop in the middle of their dinner and say, “I wonder how Joel is today.” Wow.

There was another woman we met attending church last Sunday. We had only been introduced to her just before the service began, but afterward as we sat in the church’s cafe for a drink she asked if I was in a lot of pain during the service. I explained that I have a great deal of inflammation in my hips that makes it very painful to stand for extended periods. This woman had noticed and was kind enough to ask about it and wanted to understand why I had that pain. As Kayla and I prepared to go to lunch and asked about where to eat, she asked if my illness dictated any special dietary needs. These are not the kind of things most people notice or think about when it comes to me and my illness.

I have been absolutely blown away by the genuine concern and generosity of people around us over that last year. My illness is not one that can been recognized from the outside. Kayla may say otherwise, but generally I don’t look sick. I have all my hair, my skin color is normal, I don’t carry an oxygen tank, and because of the drugs, I’ve actually gained weight, whereas a sick individual would usually lose weight. But what I’ve noticed is that the people who really know us and who really care often ask with genuine concern about how I’m doing, and even if I lie, those people can hear it in my voice or see it written on my face, just how I really feel on that day. I remember when my brother, Troy, told me the story of how Jacksons for Joel started. He said that in talking with one of the men in his church in Illinois, that this man said, “What can the church do? Not our church, but the Church, with a capital “C”.” It is this generosity, love and concern from The Church as a whole, which is really a reflection of God himself, that has continued to sustain us and pull us up when we are low.

Thank you to all of you who continue to ask about us, send us cards and gifts, spend time with us or watch our kids so Kayla and I can spend time with each other. We love and care deeply for you all.